Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Quest For Good Bread

I survived a week of camping and being away from the Internet so I thought I would make a triumphant return to blogging by writing about one of my favorite topics: Bread. I really like bread. There is obviously something good about it if it's referred to as "the staff of life".

When I was 9 years old, I lived in Vienna for six months and every morning for breakfast I'd have warm rolls that I think were called semmeln with jam and hot chocolate. The bread was so much better than anything I had ever eaten before and I never got tired of it. Before I start giving too much credit to the Europeans you have to remember that they also came up with the abomination know as blutbrot (blood bread). When we came back to the States, I returned to eating the usual slices of boring plain white bread.

My Dad has always been into healthy food. When he would buy bread he would always get dense wheat breads that were so heavy they required burly bag boys to carry them out to the car for him. He was also into more exotic breads like pumpernickel and rye, but I never cared for their strong after taste.

I lived in Chile for a while and despite the lower standard of living I often encountered, they sure knew what they were doing when it came to making bread. It seemed like there was a panaderia on every street which sold several varieties of fresh bread. I spent many meals reveling in the simple yet perfect trio of bread, butter, and jam.

My wife makes homemade bread and it always smells good, tastes better, and is more filling than a loaf of bread from the store. The only draw back is that it's hard to slice very thin. I'd still rather have a sandwich made of thick bread that I have to stretch my jaws to eat like a snake, rather than eat regular flavorless store bought bread.

Some days I crave good bread and I can't believe how lame most of the bread you find in the grocery store is. Especially the cheap white stuff like Wonder bread. It is more like a hollow counterfeit version of bread that mocks me. It reminds me of the scene in The Little Mermaid when Ursula takes on the image of a brunette Ariel. She looks beautiful and sounds like her until she reveals her true ugly self. That may not be the best analogy but I have felt deceived with the plain white bread much like Prince Eric must have felt when he realized he wasn't getting what he had expected.

I have learned the hard way that if you want good bread you have to pay the price and fork out the extra money or make it yourself.

13 comments:

CSIowa said...

Semmeln are indeed a wonderful breakfast! The thing the Europeans (and Chileans, apparently) have going for them is a willingness to shop every day. Those bakeries have fresh bread that tastes wonderful and goes rock hard within a day or two. That's how french toast was born. What else can you do with it, unless you really love ducks?

While I miss many things about Austria, frequent food shopping is not one of them.

russell jack said...

not only is that plain white bread disgusting, it's also much less healthy. by processing bread that much you strip it of any real nutrition.

Kristina P. said...

We only by the Grandma Sycamore's bread. So soft and chewy and dense!

Chaka said...

CSIowa-Thanks for showing me how to spell "Zemmil". I was not even close.

Mary said...

Just ducking in to say, "Welcome back." Missed you.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I do love me some bread. Kind of like beer, the darker the better. I love pumpernickel and rye.

Eric said...

I have to second MJenks comment.
And, beer is not the staff of life? Awww, man...

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

home -made bread is the best!Once you start, you simply cannot get back to the store-bought version!

Bee and Rose said...

Homemade bread....yummmola....

I am a huge fan of all kinds of bread...I've been on a banana nut bread, zuchinni bread and wheat bread makin' spree the last few weeks:)

Welcome back!

Kelly said...

You are lucky to live in happy valley where they have that great bread store.... Oh what is it? I can see the label now... Great Harvest! That's it! Great bread shop where they give you a fresh hot slice when you walk in and you can't help but give in to the temptation to buy. Out here I have to settle for Pepperidge Farms. Boo hiss!

I remember Grandma Sycamores too. Good stuff!

peewee said...

UH! GOD! FInally you're back. NOT reading your blog was like waking up to white bread everyday. Not even Wonder White. But store brand white. But not that you're back it's like life is a giant sourdough boule again!

Maui said...

ah bread...

http://www.noob.us/humor/conan-obrien-and-the-bread-professor/

Beckalita said...

Homemade bread is fabulous, but it is kind of hard to get excited about a grilled cheese sandwhich or French toast on big, thick whole-wheat. I am going to go out on a limb and say that there are just some things you need white bread for. I guess there is no getting around it. You just need both.